Stacy Lewis Leads Team USA to Dominant Start in Solheim Cup
The 18th Solheim Cup kicked off with a bang as Team USA dominated the Friday morning session in Spain. For the first time in history, the American team swept the foursomes, taking a commanding lead over their European counterparts. The impressive performance left everyone in awe, and Team USA captain Stacy Lewis was praised for her strategic pairings.
Nelly Korda, who was paired with rookie Allisen Corpuz, credited the strong chemistry among the players for the 4-0 start. Korda also commended Lewis for her excellent pairing decisions, stating, “Our captain, she paired us up really well.” Corpuz made a significant contribution by sinking a crucial 6-foot putt on the final hole, effectively shutting out Europe and clinching the session for Team USA.
Lewis’s decision to put struggling Lexi Thompson out first raised some eyebrows initially. However, Thompson, paired with Megan Khang, proved their worth by defeating a strong rookie duo of Maja Stark and Linn Grant, who had never lost a foursomes match together in previous competitions. This victory made a statement early on and set the tone for Team USA’s dominant performance.
Lewis, who had been keeping a keen eye on Thompson’s form during practice rounds, made the calculated decision to include her in the starting lineup. Thompson will continue to compete alongside two-time major winner Lilia Vu in the fourball competition in the afternoon.
What made Lewis’s choices even more intriguing was her use of a Solheim Cup-specific analytics program for decision-making. By relying on data-driven insights, Lewis aimed to justify her selections in her own mind and with the players. While she acknowledged that other factors, such as personal dynamics and equipment preferences, also played a role, the analytics program helped guide her decisions throughout the tournament.
Team USA’s success continued as Ally Ewing and Cheyenne Knight secured the first point for their team, defeating the previously successful duo of Charley Hull and Emily Pedersen. Ewing, a captain’s pick chosen for her experience, expressed their readiness to take on the day.
Another standout performance came from Andrea Lee, one of the American rookies, who teamed up with Danielle Kang. The pair showcased their skills in alternate shot, finishing the morning session 3 under par. Lee described the exhilarating rush she felt as she sank a crucial 10-footer down the stretch to secure a victory against the decorated European partnership of Celine Boutier and Georgia Hall.
The Americans’ dominant start in the Solheim Cup was a significant turnaround for a team that had lost the past two editions of the tournament. Assistant captain Angela Stanford acknowledged the magnitude of the accomplishment but emphasized the need to stay focused and maintain the momentum throughout the competition.
Lewis’s strategic pairings and reliance on analytics seem to have paid off in the early stages of the Solheim Cup. As Team USA aims to reclaim the trophy, they will look to build upon their impressive start and continue their winning streak, hopefully making history by the end of the tournament.